Manor courtyard project may not be completed until spring

Workers carefully position a large stone slab into place in the new courtyard project at Manitoulin Centennial Manor. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—The new courtyard project being constructed at Manitoulin Centennial Manor is moving ahead despite supply chain issues that are plaguing the construction industry across the globe, but administrator Don Cook advised some board members last week that the project may not be fully completed until spring. Since the courtyard would not normally be utilized in the winter and construction was anticipated to take up most of the fall, the delay should not have a huge impact overall.

Large stones that double as seating options are currently being put in place and the project is shaping up well, he noted.

“Have we decided on a name for the courtyard?” asked board member Mary Jane Lenihan. “It would be nice to have the donors recognized for their generous contribution to this project.”

Mr. Cook informed the board members present that the donor family has not yet indicated a willingness to be officially identified but are being apprised of the progress being made on the project. The project is also dependant on funding grants from the province that have specific deadlines for completion. The Manor has already been granted an earlier extension but given the constraints imposed by supply chain issues, Mr. Cook remains optimistic.

In other projects, the new phone system installation at the Manor is almost completed, although there are still some minor “glitches” being worked out.

Manor administration is also moving ahead with a plan to replace lighting with LED options, a project that will cost $58,000 in capital expenditures, but which is estimated will save $19,000 a year in energy costs. “We have already replaced the lighting in the dining room,” shared Mr. Cook, “but it will cost $48,000 to finish.” The money will come from the small capital fund, he noted, which has sufficient unallocated funds to cover the project. “We can do this project without touching the operating funds,” he noted.

The operating funds took a significant hit due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Manor, which luckily was contained relatively quickly and thanks to the Manor’s protocols not all of the residents contracted the virus.

Extendicare advisor Keith Clement noted the budget took a significant hit from the outbreak, but efforts are underway to itemize and isolate those costs in the hopes that special funding will be available to help defray those costs. “We do have the potential to get money back,” he said. Nonetheless, the Manor’s financial statements have to deal with the present reality until such funding is confirmed, he said. “But our first priority is to keep our residents safe.”

There were 19 residents who remained negative at the conclusion of the outbreak. The outbreak was declared over on August 8.

Director of Care Sylvie Clarke was effusive in her praise of Manor staff during the COVID outbreak. Even though vacationing staff had to be called back and staff vacations cancelled, she said staff members stepped up to meet the challenge, with many volunteering to take on extra shifts or to work longer to help contain the outbreak. Ms. Clarke said that she is currently working with employees to arrange alternate vacation days.

Ms. Clarke went on to inform the board members present that progress is being made on staffing shortages and that there are some hopeful signs on the horizon.

There is currently a waitlist of 20 for Manor beds. Ms. Clarke noted that two empty beds will be filled by September and following that the Manor will be working toward filling the empty four beds being held in reserve for isolation purposes “per ministry direction.”

Earlier optimism that there would be fibre-enabled internet coming into the Manor this fall have had to be adjusted due to the scope of the fibre extension project taking place across the North Shore, but the Manor is currently working with Vianet to upgrade the Manor’s transmission speeds to a point where the new Extendicare Workday management software will be able to function adequately.

“Vianet says we will be able to 100mb upload, we are currently at 50,” said Mr. Cook. “With fibre, we will be around 1,000mb.”

Inspections at the Public Health Sudbury and Districts went well, noted Mr. Cook. “District health unit was in working with us on our outbreak procedures,” he said. “They were very pleased with what they saw and our procedures, leaving only a few recommendations on how to help with the outbreak.”